11 Sep 2019

ACC taxi troubles: Drivers rejecting trips due to lower pay, Auckland woman told

7:03 am on 11 September 2019

An Auckland woman who has had to rely on ACC-funded taxis says drivers are late or don't turn up once they realise ACC is paying the bill.

Taxis in Adelaide

A dozen drivers for Blue Bubble taxis said they were paid about 7 to 10 percent less for ACC jobs. Photo: 123rf

In 2015, Rachel Scott broke her ankle. ACC agreed to pay for her taxi fares through Auckland Co-Op taxis so she could get to and from work, and to appointments.

She had used the taxis before and always found them reliable, but with ACC it was a different story - taxis were late or did not show up at all and she gave up using them after a week.

In July this year, she broke her pelvis and ACC again agreed to pay for taxis so she could get to work and back.

"The first morning, the cab was 40 minutes late. I had ordered it for 8am, it didn't arrive until 8.40am, and I'm on the phone to Blue Bubble from 8.15am saying 'where's my cab'," she said.

This went on for days, but one evening was particularly frustrating.

"I got told that the cab had accepted the job. I'm on crutches, I make my way down to the front of the building, I'm on the 15th floor ... It's after 6pm, it's wet, it's cold, I'm standing on one leg and no cab arrives.

"So I rang up and I'm told the cab that we said had accepted the job has dropped it, there isn't any cab ... and eventually after I'd been waiting for half an hour, the cab arrived.

"At that point, I just thought this was just so outrageous. So I made another complaint to ACC and they actually arranged for Driving Miss Daisy to pick me up."

"When I talk to the drivers to try and find out why is it they provide such a great service when you're a private customer or a business customer and then you get this crap service when you're ACC ... one of the cab drivers said that they get paid 10 percent less for the ACC jobs."

However Blue Bubble chief executive Bob Wilkinson said this was not true.

He said he had never heard of drivers dropping jobs that were ACC funded and said minus a transaction fee that was about 2 to 3 percent drivers were paid the same as any other job done for an account holder.

He said the company could not find any records of complaints made by Ms Scott or ACC on her behalf.

An ACC spokesperson said it would investigate.

"When Ms Scott told us taxis were not turning up on time we made arrangements to adjust the pick-up times. When Ms Scott complained again about the inconsistent service we arranged for a different provider to help her with transport.

"We were sorry to hear that Ms Scott had a poor service experience and we've escalated her complaints, and our concerns, to TaxiCharge," the spokesperson said.

ACC has contracted with TaxiCharge, a billing company, since 2005.

It did not respond to RNZ's request for an interview to confirm how much it deducted during the payment process.

RNZ also spoke to a dozen Blue Bubble taxi drivers who confirmed they did get paid about 7 to 10 percent less for ACC jobs, and they could see prior to pick up that it was an ACC job.

One driver recalled being bumped from number 20 in the queue to third because the drivers above him were declining an ACC job on offer.

Most drivers said they did not skip or drop ACC jobs.